Home News UN expresses concerns over Trinidad’s treatment of Venezuelans
…as it deported 82 nationals, inclusive of asylum seekers
The United Nations system in Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday registered its concerns with the decision of the island’s Government to facilitate the return of 82 Venezuelan nationals, including asylum seekers, who had been in detention back to their homeland.
“The United Nations is concerned for the welfare of these people and is in contact with the appropriate authorities in Port of Spain to ensure that any person in need of protection will get it without fail,” the T&T UN Resident Coordinator Richard Blewitt said on Sunday.
Blewitt’s comments came after the island’s Ministry of National Security announced that 82 Venezuelan citizens who had been held in detention in Trinidad and Tobago had been turned over to the Venezuelan Embassy for repatriation to Venezuela.
“The group, comprised of 53 men and 29 women, included several individuals who had been registered as asylum seekers in Trinidad and Tobago as well as others who had initiated asylum requests or had signalled an intention to do so. They were flown out of Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday aboard a Venezuelan Government aircraft. The Ministry statement said all returns were voluntary although this could not be verified independently by United Nations observers,” the UN said in a statement.
“Venezuelans have been leaving their country in growing numbers, many in need of international protection and seeking temporary refuge in countries of the Americas region, including in some Caribbean small island States like Trinidad and Tobago. The United Nations and its local partners have encouraged the prompt adoption of national legislation on refugee issues, and work together to support the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in its efforts to develop an efficient and secure asylum system,” the statement added.
T&T National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said the arrangement was finalised on Friday between the two Governments. The military aircraft, flight number FAV2410, landed at the Piarco International Airport South Terminal at 10:51h from El Libertador Air Base Airport in Palo Negra, Venezuela on Saturday.
The Trinidad Guardian reported that just under 40 of those 82 Venezuelan nationals were said to have applied for asylum and refugee status in T&T, but the certificates they had in their possession were allegedly disregarded by immigration officers in T&T.
Over the last two weeks, members of the T&T Police Service as well as immigration officers made several raids in the southern part of the island where they detained a number of Venezuelan nationals who were in the country illegally.
It was reported that approximately 2000 Venezuelans have applied for asylum in T&T and the numbers are increasing. Venezuelans have been seeking refuge in T&T as a result of their country’s current situation.
The Trinidad Guardian reports that on a weekly basis between 150 and 200 Venezuelans come to T&T via the sea, but noted that based on the numbers seen at the Immigration Detention Centre, the majority of them—at least 90 per cent – have entered the country illegally or have a criminal conviction.